Friday, March 24, 2017

Officially Spring!

Hi Folks

It’s officially spring, and you know what that means—time for spring cleaning! Mix up a batch of All-Purpose Cleaner with 2 cups of rubbing alcohol, 1 tbsp. of ammonia, 1 tbsp. of dishwashing liquid, and 2 quarts of water combined in a bucket. Then, pour the cleaner into a hand-held sprayer bottle. This concoction is perfect to clean the living room windows, kitchen counters, bathroom tile, and just about any other hard surface!

Make sure to also spend some time cleaning up your yard. Run any leaves, tree branches, and other compostable materials through a shredder, and use it to start a new compost pile. Then douse the pile with this Compost Feeder Tonic: 1/2 can of beer, 1/2 can of cola, and 1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid mixed in a 20 gallon hose-end sprayer. Give the pile a good dose of this tonic once a month, and it’ll turn into black, crumbly, nutrient-rich compost before you know it!

If all that work leaves you with an achin’ back, use a homemade ice pack! It’s so easy to make – simply mix 1 part rubbing alcohol with 2 parts water, and pour into a heavy-duty zip-top plastic freezer bag. Squeeze all the air out, seal the bag up, and tuck it away in the freezer. Because alcohol doesn’t freeze, the contents will be slushy rather than rock hard—and all the more comfortable on your achin’ body. And when you’re sore-no-more, just pop it back in the freezer for next time.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Mower Maintenance Made Easy

It’s time to start thinking about mowing your lawn again! And that means keeping your mower in top shape. Follow these ten tips, and you’ll breeze through this year’s lawn mowing without a single hitch:

1. Don’t be a gas hoarder. Never store more than a month’s worth of gas in your garage or shed (and at today’s prices, who can afford to?). Old gas often collects condensation, which can gum up your carburetor.        

2. Give the blades plenty of elbow room. Before you start your mower, look underneath it. Clear away any built-up grass or other debris.

3. Sharpen the blade every third mowing. And keep at least two back-up blades handy and sharp.

4. Remember the oil. Depending on how much lawn you have and how often you cut it, change the oil at least once a season. Too little oil can put a death grip on your engine—a costly fate for you!

5. Keep the cooling fins clean.

6. Check the belt condition and tension each time before you mow.

7. Let your mower breathe clean air. Check out your air filter; replace it when it gets dirty. Otherwise, dirt will sneak into the engine, wearing down vital parts and making starting a real hassle.

8. Wipe down all the rubber and plastic parts with Armorall® once a month to keep them from drying out, cracking, and disintegrating.

9. Wipe down all chrome and metal parts with WD-40® every few weeks to keep them from rusting and sticking.

10. Check out all safety controls (automatic shutoff, all-wheel control, etc.) before each use.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Outdoor Chores

Hi there, folks!

Hopefully, you’re all enjoying any warm spring weather you’ve been having lately. If so, then you should take full advantage of the mild temperatures to get some much-needed outdoor chores done.

For starters, if your deck is looking really dirty, it’s time to clean it up! But rather than buying an expensive cleaner, just give it a good scrubbing with this homemade Deck and Porch Cleaner: 1 qt. of household bleach, ½ cup of powdered laundry detergent, and 2 gallons of hot water mixed in a bucket. Use a stiff broom or brush to scrub this solution into your deck. Then hose down the surface thoroughly, and enjoy the squeaky-clean shine.

Next, it’s time to get your lawn up off its “grass” for another growing season. So treat it to a dose of this Spring Wake-Up Tonic: 50 lbs. of pelletized gypsum, 50 lbs. of pelletized lime, 5 lbs. of bonemeal, and 2 lbs. of Epsom salts mixed in a wheelbarrow. Apply this mix with a broadcast spreader no more than 2 weeks before your first official lawn feeding. Your spring lawn will be up and at ‘em in no time!

Unfortunately, springtime chores in the great outdoors usually bring allergy symptoms right along with them. To clear your sinuses in a hurry, whip up this steamy soother: 1 tablespoon each of rosemary and eucalyptus mixed into 1 cup of boiling water. Place a towel over your head to make a tent, and sniff the fumes for 5 minutes to achieve blessed relief.

Then get out there, and kick some grass!

Friday, March 03, 2017

Gentlemen (and Ladies), Start Your Seedlings!

Now’s the time to get your seedlings going. Here’s how with a quick ‘n’ easy way that'll turn household trash into garden treasure: When you reach the end of a roll of foil, don’t throw the cardboard tube away. Instead, turn it into a bunch of seed-starting pots. Just cut the tube into pieces about 3 inches long, and wrap aluminum foil around the outside of each piece to keep the cardboard from falling apart when it gets wet. Pack the little pots closely together on a waterproof tray or shallow pan, add seed-starting mix, and sow seeds to your heart’s content. Then come transplant time, remove the foil, and plant your seedlings, pots and all. Now you’re seedlings will be rarin’ for spring!

While we’re at it, let’s talk about getting a jump start on spring skin care. If March came in like a lion in your neck of the woods, then you know those bone-chilling winds sure can take a toll. So here’s a simple facial formula that will slough off dead skin cells, refine pores, and even out your skin tone – all to get you ready for dare-to-go-bare skin. In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons of apple juice, 2 teaspoons of red wine, and 1 tablespoon of ground oatmeal to make a paste. (Add more liquid if you need to.) Spread the mixture onto your face and throat, let it dry for 20 to 30 minutes, and rinse with warm water. Now, are you ready for a nice, warm spring? (Cue the lamb!)

Friday, November 04, 2016

Cinnamon Trick for Dodging Diabetes

Numerous studies show that adding ½ to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to your diet every day could be enough to help control blood sugar levels and avoid this dreaded disease. That’s because it can improve the ability of your body’s cells to recognize and respond to insulin—a process that goes haywire in diabetics. But if you already have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, consult your doctor before you start dosing yourself with cinnamon—or anything else!

And that’s not the only good thing about this tasty spice! Research shows that consuming just ½ to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon each day can also lower your LBL (bad) cholesterol, lessen your risk for chronic diseases of all kinds, and may reduce the growth of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells. Wondering how to get your daily dose of cinnamon? It’s a snap—just sprinkle it on cereal, toast, or English muffins; add it to your coffee or tea, stir it into a dish of yogurt, or blend it into a healthful drink, such as this delicious Banana-Walnut Smoothie:

1 banana, peeled and sliced
1½ cups of milk
¼ cup of chopped walnuts
2 tbsp. of honey
½ tsp. of cinnamon

Put all of the ingredients in a blender, puree until smooth, and drink up. In addition to providing your daily dose of cinnamon, this super smoothie serves up a major load of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Whip it up and take it along as an on-the-go breakfast, or enjoy it as a healthful snack. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Rosy Bedtime Ritual

Just like small children, the roses in your yard appreciate a little extra attention before they go to sleep.

If you live where winter temperatures dip below 0°F, it’s a good idea to protect hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, and most English roses. Once the ground has frozen, pile shredded bark, soil, or compost over the base of the stems in an 8- to 12-inch-tall mound. Remove the mulch in early spring, so new shoots can easily emerge.

Climbing roses respond well to additional winter protection. How much protection depends on the climate:
  • In extremely cold regions and for marginal varieties, remove the plants from their supports and bend them down to the ground (very carefully so as not to break the stems!). Cover the plants with 6 inches of soil, wait until the ground has frozen, and then add enough straw mulch to cover the mound to a depth of about 3 inches. 
  • In less frigid regions and for hardier climbing types, pack straw around the canes while they are still attached to the trellis or support. Then wrap burlap around the straw, and hold it securely in place with twine. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Make Flu Flee!

Doses of this year’s flu vaccine are already being shipped to health care providers across the country, and with sporadic cases of the flu already appearing in some states, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is once again urging all of us to get a flu shot.

Unfortunately for the needle-phobic among us, the nasal mist form of the vaccine—which was introduced in 2013 and has been shown to offer little protection against getting sick—won’t be available this year. With the needle once again the only option, the CDC speculates that the number of vaccinations will plummet.

Some of the needle dodgers are afraid that the vaccine may actually give them the flu (it won’t), or they simply can’t face the prospect of getting jabbed. Other folks (procrastinators by nature) simply put it off until it’s too late to bother. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the vaccine’s protection doesn’t kick in for about two weeks. So being proactive could make a big difference in the state of your health this winter.

In addition to getting vaccinated annually, conventional wisdom has it that to protect yourself and your family from the flu you need to wage a constant battle against germs that collect on all the frequently touched surfaces in your home. According to the most recent advice from top-tier doctors, that kind of cleaning frenzy isn’t necessary. Although inanimate objects may sometimes transmit flu viruses, their sharing power can’t hold a candle to human hands and breath. Still, if you want to disinfect some of the most likely germ catchers, here’s where to focus your attack:
  • Computer keyboards and mouses
  • Desks and tables
  • Doorknobs and light switches
  • Faucets
  • Handrails
  • TV and video-game remote control